October 25, 2014

Bishop Mark responds to EA

Note the request to move Central America into the South American conference, and separate Canada as its own entity (both good moves I think). Note too that these requests will be “…forwarded to the Ecumenical Patriarch per the procedures outlined in the Chambesy Documents.” The latter point needs deliberation given that the EP’s insistence that the autocephaly of the OCA should not be recognized is a point not universally recognized in the larger Orthodox Church. (The claim that the OCA is not-canonical was settled in Moscow two days ago when the EP served with an OCA representative at the Patriarchal Liturgy.) Put another way, we cannot accede the future of the American Orthodox Church to Constantinople alone. It appears the Bishops attending the assembly understand this given the importance they placed on their previous work done through SCOBA (an intellectually honest approach in my opinion).

HT: St. Andrew House

+++++++++++++++++

2656 PEMBERTON DRIVE OFFICE TOLEDO, OH 43606 FAX: (419) 535-7999 WWW.ANTIOCHIAN.ORG/MIDWEST SAYEDNA.MARK@SBCGLOBAL.NET
…the Disciples were called Christians first in Antioch! ACTS 11:26

The Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America
The Diocese of Toledo and the Midwest
+His Grace, Bishop Mark

Friday, May 28, 2010

Dear to God,

Bishop Mark -- Antiochian Orthodox Church of America

Bishop Mark -- Antiochian Orthodox Church of America

Christ is in our midst! By the grace of God we have completed our First Episcopal Assembly, chaired by His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of North America and attended by 57 of the 65 Hierarchs of North and Central America. He is truly a gracious, loving and patient man and certainly a gift to our Church in North America. May God grant him good health and many years!

Recommendations were made to separate Mexico and Central America from our Episcopal Assembly as their needs linguistically and culturally are quite different. Hopefully, Mexico and Central America will be absorbed into the Episcopal Assembly of South America. Likewise the Bishops of Canada asked to form their own Episcopal Assembly and both requests will be forwarded to the Ecumenical Patriarch per the procedures outlined in the Chambesy Documents.

The agencies of SCOBA were received by the new assembly which considers itself the successor of SCOBA. Monthly updates to a data base will assist in identifying Canonical Bishops, Priests, Deacons and Parishes. Joint Committees have been identified to ad-dress the common needs of the Orthodox Church here in the United States which will assist us in uniform articulation, discipline and expression of the One Orthodox Faith.

When building a new house, the most difficult aspect can be assessing the soil and digging deep down to find the bedrock upon which to lay a strong foundation. His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios commented that when one looks at a beautiful building, one rarely considers the effort that went into creating a sufficient foundation for the building. By the grace of God we hope we have begun to lay an unyielding foundation upon which to bring the living stones, the faithful in Christ from our various jurisdictions, for the building up of a beautiful Church in North America to the Glory of God. May the All-Holy Spirit direct and guide our Hierarchs as they seek to do the Lord’s will.

Your unworthy father in Christ,

+ Mark, Bishop of Toledo and the Diocese of the Midwest

Comments

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    Isa Almisry says:

    The Canadian “request”: is it really Canada’s request, or Met. Sotirios? (as was the reason why Mexico wasn’t included in Latin America in the first place: the Phanar’s local ethnarch throwing a tantrum). He is the enactment of phyletism. The Canadian Assembly he mentioned, does it include Archb. Serephim and Bishop Irenee? Archbishop Nathaniel, who has plenty of parishes in Canada, including the cradle of his jurisdiction?

    How the Phanar is going to answer these requests without exposing itself is going to be interesting.

    What exactly is the relationship of the EA to SCOBA, in particular as SCOBA hasn’t disbanded itself (and Met. Jonah is on it)?

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    Fr John says:

    I can see how Mexico belongs with the rest of Latin America as part of a cultural region. But Canada, with only 10% of the US population and (I am guessing) something like 10% of its Orthodox population, does not constitute a distinctive, viable polity apart from the US. I can’t see how it’s a pressing issue to hive off another Eparchical structure just for Canada. Could someone explain the idea better to me?
    I know for a fact that some Canadian OCA folks feel they cannot adequately participate in OCA life which they see as too much of an American thing, but their nascent nationalism is just not what I would call a front-burner issue, in light of the more general disarray of our various jurisdictions continent-wide.
    What I see from my brief sojourn in Canada is a heavily Ukrainianized expression of Church life, result of what appears to me – I may be wrong here, correct me if I am – a predominance of Ukrainian parishes in much of the country.
    But the Ukrainian Church in Canada is an EP eparchy; for Canadian Orthodoxy to go ahead and define itself discretely apart from US Orthodoxy would be tipping the scales to the the EP’s favor. Unless by some wild stretch of the imagination, the Ukrainian Church in Canada was thinking of establishing itself independently from the EP.

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    Isa Almisry says:

    I can see how Mexico belongs with the rest of Latin America as part of a cultural region. But Canada, with only 10% of the US population and (I am guessing) something like 10% of its Orthodox population, does not constitute a distinctive, viable polity apart from the US. I can’t see how it’s a pressing issue to hive off another Eparchical structure just for Canada. Could someone explain the idea better to me?…..What I see from my brief sojourn in Canada is a heavily Ukrainianized expression of Church life, result of what appears to me – I may be wrong here, correct me if I am – a predominance of Ukrainian parishes in much of the country.
    But the Ukrainian Church in Canada is an EP eparchy; for Canadian Orthodoxy to go ahead and define itself discretely apart from US Orthodoxy would be tipping the scales to the the EP’s favor..

    DING! DING! DING!

    Met. Sotirios does not play well with others. Hence he would like to make sure he doesn’t have to.

    There is nothing wrong with being “Ukrainianized.” The only reasons I would want Canada to stay with the US for the time being would be for the for furtherance of French Orthodoxy, and for a Ukrainian see to serve on the Holy Synod as I envision it (no place to really do that in the US and stay with the one bishop rule).

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    Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

    Your last question touches on an issue 1) forced into play by the EA, and 2) will reveal the differences between canonical norms and Constantinople’s program of universalizing the Phanariot policy.

    IOW, it was not SCOBA that granted legitimacy to the bishops, it was the bishops, by virtue of their office of overseeing the flock of God, that granted legitimacy to SCOBA. (We won’t include titular bishops in this definition since canonically, no such position exists, ie: bishops can’t oversee non-existent dioceses, it’s a logical impossibility.) SCOBA can’t be disbanded by an executive decree of a foreign Patriarch, that possibility just does not exist. We saw that when Pat. Bartholomew forced the GOA bishops to rescind their signatures from the Ligonier Proclamation; a back-handed affirmation that the document did indeed hold canonical force.

    Granted, the American jurisdictional situation is an anomaly and one could argue that SCOBA should not exist. One cannot argue however, that once existing, SCOBA has no authority because the authority of SCOBA does not rest in the institutional structure but is derived from the bishops who comprised it. This is the canonical norm and conforms to Orthodox ecclesiology; a norm also confirmed by the Episcopal Assembly which defined the authority of the Assembly in precisely these terms.

    Constantinople understands this. That’s why it ordered Abp. Demetrios not to invite the OCA to the EA. Abp. Demetrios, to his credit invited the OCA anyway. It was a bold and courageous move and we should be grateful to him for it. (My hunch? You might see a retirement coming soon. If I am correct, then I will tell you what is coming down the pike.)

    Constantinople is driving hard to bring the American situation to a Great and Holy Council, presumably to control the outcome. Fr. Mark Arey, who speaks for the Phanar, said in a recent interview:

    As for the aim of the meeting, he said, “In the regulations the aim is for the Assembly to try to propose to the Great and Holy Council that will meet eventually in canonical solution to the anomalies of the region and those anomalies are many, but the biggest anomaly is to have more than one bishop in one place.”

    Could this be achieved without establishing an American Autocephalous Church? He said, “absolutely yes.” But how? “Well, that actually will be the decision of the Great and Holy Council only a universal Council of all Orthodox can canonize the situation.”

    He went on to say, “I think that there are varieties of transitional models, I think there are varieties of autonomy and semi-autconomy which exists in the Orthodox World today. The Church of Crete is a semi-autonomous church.” As for the idea of a semi-autonomous Church, he said, “Some of this has become an issue of semantics.”

    Here you see the groundwork being laid for an American Church under Constantinople. But why exclude the OCA when full communion exists between the OCA and GOA? There is only one reason: Constantinople fears the autocephaly of the OCA.

    And now, after the EA, that fear might be justified given that the American bishops are realizing that their authority is theirs to express, not Constantinople’s.

    The future then will be very interesting. Two poles have emerged: episcopal authority as defined by the canons (which exists irrespective of American jurisdictional anomalies) and a universalized Phanariot policy applied to the American situation.

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      +Stephen-Anthony says:

      Thank you Fr. Hans for your critical thinking on these complicated matters. There are other Orthodox bishops in the US who do not belong to SCOBA or any remnants thereof. This is due to the ethnical issues more than any religious or theological reasoning. Ethnism has broken Orthodox Tradition in the New World. SCOBA or any successor to that group is not willing to fix it and perhaps are unable to fix it. SCOBA is too busy fighting over jurisdiction and who has power and authority. Bishops are charged with protecting their flocks from heresy. This entails teaching and pastoring the faithful. It is not about who has more flock than another bishop or even who has the wider jurisdiction over others. Authority comes from the people, from the ground up who invest their bishops with authority to carry out their task of keeping the flock free from heresy. According to St. Bartholomew (Cunningham) +, the error in our churches is to invest authority in external entities. For Protestants, it is the Bible (sola Scriptura). For the Roman Catholics authority is externally invested in the Pope. The lesson of Pentecost is not one of external authority. As St. Bartholomew (Cunningham) + stated in his lectures, “The only real authority in the Church is the Holy Spirit.” It is imperative for those charged with the protection of the Faith that examination of that Faith among the Orthodox worshippers, no matter where they live, be done in light of Holy Orthodox Tradition as guided by the Holy Spirit. All Orthodox Christians are One with each other and are lead by the Holy Spirit. I pray we see the end of ethnism. It splits our loyalty. Orthodox are already one with Christ. Stop the splitting as the psychologists put it.

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    orrologion says:

    Constantinople fears the autocephaly of the OCA.

    Why bother, Met. Jonah went on record as saying

    The Tomos does not allow for the full consequences of autocephaly to be proclaimed, that all other churches on the territory of the OCA are thereby uncanonical. Rather, it allows for the preservation of their ties to their mother churches until such time as all can be brought into a new unity, a single Church for America.

    Thus, the OCA’s charter and vocation is for it to disappear: it is kenotic.

    That is, unity is the issue (for the OCA, Met. Jonah and the canons) not the form of that unity (i.e., autocephaly, autonomy, semi-autonomy, dual obedience (to an EA and to a Mother Church), etc.

    I think a separate Canadian EA makes sense as a part of the North American EA. They don’t have enough Orthodox to really be their own, unless you are goign to grant the same to the Orthodox in Central America alone, in Brazil alone (they don’t speak Spanish). Why not grant the Quebec Orthodox their own EA since its a mainly francophone state?

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      George Michalopulos says:

      Orrologion, I see your point but it can’t be unity uber alles. The tomos of autocephaly did envision a kenotic reality but only as a form of autocephaly, not semi-autonomy. Otherwise the tomos makes no sense at all.

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      Fr. Johannes Jacobse says:

      Yes, that is precisely why the EP fears the autocephaly I believe. The threat is not a unilateral claim by the OCA that they are the the rightful leaders of the American Church, but that a mechanism exists by which American bishops, if so inclined, could forge a unity.

      There cannot be unity in America if all jurisdictions retain ties to their Mother Churches. It simply can’t work. There could be a kind of quasi-autonomy under one Mother Church however, which is what Constantinople is angling for because it wants to be that Mother Church.

      As long as autocephaly exists however, Constantinople cannot control events in accord with their policy. It’s a wild card. They see a lot of risk, and they are right in seeing it. That’s why they didn’t want to see Met. Jonah seated at all.

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        Isa Almisry says:

        I think that is also why Met. Sotirios, I meand Canada (;), is requesting a seperate EA. Arch. Demetrios was never the Phanar’s man, but Met. Sotirios is, and he wants to keep it that way.

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          George Michalopulos says:

          Sotirios would be foolish if he thinks that he could control the Canadian Church in such a fashion. Indeed, he’s made a fatal error in playing such childish games. For one thing, he’s angered the Romanians who have a significant presence in Canada. I rather doubt as well that the Ukrainians would love to see their culture –which is a significant part of the Canadian story–subjugated to a bunch of unassimiliated Greeks in Toronto. I say this even though I realize that both the Ukes and the Greeks are under Istanbul. Be looking for fissures and cracks in the near future.

          Since I’m traveling down this line, this same type of petulance will ill-serve +Athenagoras in Mexico. When the OCA releases its parishes to Latin America (which is logical in a cultural sense), it will increase the indigenous presence in Orthodoxy which will not bode well for the neo-colonialists south of the Rio Grande.

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            George Michalopulos says:

            P.S. Does anybody have any idea why the two GOA hierarchs of Canada and Central America have chosen to behave in such a petulant fashion?

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      Fabio L Leite says:

      They don’t have enough Orthodox to really be their own, unless you are goign to grant the same to the Orthodox in Central America alone, in Brazil alone (they don’t speak Spanish). Why not grant the Quebec Orthodox their own EA since its a mainly francophone state?

      I think Brazil has a better claim on that than Canada or Central America. :)

      The main difference from the relation between Brazil-Latin America and Canada-USA is that Canada *does* speak English along with French, while Brazil homogenously speaks Portuguese. Even on the borders one will find “Portunhol” (local version of “Spanglish”) more often than Spanish.

      South-America as a whole has 386 million people, of which 192 million alone are in Brazil (49% of all the continent, the rest being spread among 11 countries). Considering US + Canada the population is 343 million of which 309 million are in the US and just 34 million in Canada (around 11% of the total only).

      So, considering that in contrast to the rest of Latin-America Brazil speaks a different language homogenously among its population, that it alone represents half the population of the continent, that our culture is as different from our Hispanic “hermanos” as any two Romance-language countries in Europe, that Brazil is a regional reference that influences more than it is influenced and that even beyond South-America, considering that there are 4 canonical bishops residing in the country, 3 of which were born here and we do not have any problem of bishops overlapping since each live in a different city, considering that there are two missionary churches attending for local conversions and four other to attend for the immigrants and their descedents without contradiction between them, *and* the fact that the ministry exercised here would certainly reverberate in Portugal and probably in the Portuguese speaking countries and regions of Africa and Asia, I would ask the Pre-Conciliar Conference and the local hierarchs, if I could, to consider the formation of an EA for Brazil, which, I am sure, would represent a big step for the consolidation of the Orthodox Church in the New World.

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        George Michalopulos says:

        Fabio, I think this is an excellent idea. Four bishops is 1 more than is needed for a true national (i.e. local) church. If Orthodoxy is to succeed, it is to become the church of many nations, not “regions” (although autonomous regions would be a big step in the right direction).

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          Isa Almisry says:

          Local as in autocephalous? You really need twelve and a primate: the canons require 12 bishops to depose a bishop, for instance. Many autocephalous Churches (e..g Cyprus) have made do with less.

          Having three is problematic in that when one dies, the third bishop must be had. In Egypt, the Phanar kept Alexandria in servitude until Pope Photios forbade the Phanar to send a legatee and started to build up the Holy Synod with defunct sees, so Alexandrias didn’t need to depend on the Phanar. Alexandria now has one of the largest synods in the world, for a whole continent. (1905)

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        Isa Almisry says:

        I have a question on Brazil: when did Orthodoxy arrive?

        In the NY Times article on the arrival of St. Raphael and the consecration of his Church, it is mentioned that the primate Bp. Nicholas was to go to Brazil later that year (1895). Did he make it? If he did, that would make Brazil comparably as old as Canada.

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          Fabio L Leite says:

          Well, there is a monk-priest, Fr. Pedro Siqueira who is doing research on the history of Orthodoxy in Brazil. From just my historical common-sense, I would say that Orthodoxy has been here no sooner than the early 19th century and no later than the second half of that century. The first are either the Antiochians or the Greek. Fr. Pedro probably already knows which. Currently, the largest jurisdiction are the Antiochians. I’d say that Greeks and Ukrainians come next, only that the Ukrainians having an archbishop residing in the country are better off than the Greeks whose Metropolitan resides in Argentina. The smallest ones are the Russian, Serbian and Polish churches. The first, because Russian immigration was never big to Brazil. The other two are predominantly composed of Brazilans and are the only ones with a missionary heart and vision. Last but not least, there *were* some ROCOR parishes, but they did not accept the 2007 union with the MP and are now in schism.

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            This is an article by Fr. Pedro that tells a short version of the history of the Polish and Serbian churches in Brazil, the youngest ones here. I’m reposting it with his authorization. Maybe someone can find a place where it would be more visible and therefore more helpful in building a history of Orthodoxy in the New World.

            History of the Missionary Polish and Serbian Churches in Brazil
            by Fr. Pedro Siqueira

            The Conversion of native Brazilians to Orthodox Christianity

            In the 1970’s a counter-cultural movement was taking place all over the world and in Brazil, as well. Opposed to the Vietnam War, it was a movement which also strongly contested institutions. During that period, however, there was a great search for new spiritual expressions; there was enormous concern for, as well as great interest in, other traditions. Therefore, an entire orientalist movement appeared which included studies about Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, yoga, Zen Buddhism, etc.

            There were two groups in Brazil interested in this spiritual search, one in Recife, the capital of the Pernambuco State, and another in Rio de Janeiro. Those groups led by the same person, Eduardo Maia, sought a spiritual tradition different from what they already knew. They devoted themselves to the study of cosmology, metaphysics, symbolism, mythology and other disciplines.

            In September of 1985, a Portuguese journalist, Antonio Carlos Carvalho, the translator of René Guenon into Portuguese (René Guenon was one of the thinkers studied by these groups), came to Brazil to deliver some lectures about symbolism and tradition in Rio de Janeiro and Recife. Antonio Carlos Carvalho was also a priest of the Orthodox Church in Portugal, Archpriest Athanasius. In his course, with the name of Archpriest Athanasius spoke about Orthodox Christianity and thus introduced the Orthodox Church as the true and original Christian tradition. Members of the groups discovered Orthodoxy through him.

            In December of that same year, Archpriest Athanasius returned to Brazil in order to give specific courses about Orthodox Christianity. The groups began to study Orthodoxy, which for them quickly surpassed their interest in any other spiritual expressions. The first Orthodox author whom they studied was Serge Bulgakov, author of the book Orthodoxy.

            Archpriest Athanasius also delivered to them an invitation from Metropolitan Gabriel of Lisbon to visit Portugal, which they did six months later, in June of 1986. Nine people traveled to Portugal—five from Recife and four from Rio de Janeiro, all of them interested in Orthodoxy. This group stayed for 30 days at the Orthodox Monastery in Mafra, Portugal, coming to know firsthand the Tradition of the Orthodox Church.

            All of them were baptized in the Orthodox Church in Portugal. They requested Metropolitan Gabriel to send a priest to Brazil, but he told them that it was necessary for the Church to be a local church and that he did not have any priests available. Thus, Metropolitan Gabriel invited two people from this group to be ordained as priests: Father Paulo, who was Eduardo Maia, the leader of the movement, and Father Alexis. Metropolitan Gabriel also ordained two sub-deacons, Rev. Filipe and Alexandre. Metropolitan Gabriel gave them the mission to establish the Orthodox Church in Brazil for Brazilian people.

            Most of the members of the groups in Recife and Rio de Janeiro were interested in Orthodoxy, but they did not travel to Portugal. Some members of this group agreed to be baptized without ever having attended the Divine Liturgy. At the end of July 1986, seven people were baptized in Rio de Janeiro. On August 8, 1986, twenty-five people were baptized in Recife. The baptism took place at Dr. Ned Cavalcanti’s house in Aldeia, a neighborhood of Camaragibe City in the metropolitan area of Recife.

            Dr. Ned Cavalcanti, who himself was baptized that day, offered a piece of land next to his house for a church. He remodeled a small barn on this property to serve as a church.

            Shortly thereafter, Metropolitan Gabriel officially acknowledged this small church as a parish, the Holy Trinity Parish. At the same time, he created another parish in Rio de Janeiro, the Holy Virgin Mary Parish, which is located on Saint Roman Street, Ipanema. It was then that the local Orthodox Church in Brazil finally emerged, offering services in Portuguese. It was at this point, with these people, that its history started.

            The Orthodox Church for Brazilian People

            The Orthodox Church in Brazil developed and grew under the Portuguese Orthodox Church from 1986 to the year 2000. It was the first Orthodox Church that was created specifically for native Brazilian people.

            In February of 1987, Metropolitan Gabriel of Portugal ordained two additional priests for Brazil, Father Pedro Oliveira and Father Filipe. He assigned Father Pedro to the Holy Virgin Mary Parish in Rio de Janeiro, and Father Filipe to João Pessoa, the capital of Paraiba State which is located to the north of Pernambuco State. Metropolitan Gabriel also ordained Father Deacon Andre and assigned him to the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia.
            At that time, there were several unattended faithful in João Pessoa City, which is 120 km from Recife. So Father Felipe came to João Pessoa and together with the faithful there established the Saint Catharine of Alexandria the Great Martyr Parish in Conde City, in the suburban area of João Pessoa City.

            At the end of this same year, Metropolitan Gabriel ordained one more priest, Father Bento, and assigned him to serve the missions which had already started in Rio de Janeiro State, in the small cities of Quissamã, Natividade, Maricá, and Cordeiro, and in the neighborhood of Ilha do Governador. Also at this time, Metropolitan Gabriel ordained Father Deacon Maurício and assigned him to the Holy Virgin Mary Parish – also in Rio de Janeiro.

            A year after the Orthodox Church had been established in Brazil for ethnically Brazilian people, there were three parishes and a choir named the Theotokos – with twenty singers serving the Most Holy Virgin Mary Parish in Rio de Janeiro.

            By 1989, communion with the non-canonical Greek Old Calendar Synod had already been cut off by Metropolitan Gabriel for a few years. Thus, in the second half of this year the Portuguese Orthodox Church was received under the omophorion of His Beatitude, Metropolitan Basílio, who was the head of the Polish Orthodox Autocephalic Church. The solemn ceremony of the signatures of the canonical communion between the two churches took place in Lisbon, Portugal. On that occasion the Archbishop of Bialystok and Gdansk, His Eminence, Archbishop Sawa, represented His Beatitude, Metropolitan Basílio. The choir of the Most Holy Virgin Mary was also present and sang during the ceremony. Metropolitan Gebriel also ordained one more deacon to the Most Holy Virgin Mary Parish, Father Marcos Perreira.

            At the end of 1989, the first exhibition of holy Icons took place in four states of Brazil: Paraiba, Pernambuco, Rio de Janeiro, and São Paulo. All the Icons were written by Brazilian Iconographers.

            In the first half of 1991 Metropolitan Gabriel paid his first (and only) visit to Brazil. He visited all the parishes in Brazil and consecrated two of them—the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia and the Saint Catherine of Alexandria the Great Martyr in João Pessoa. He did not consecrate the Most Holy Virgin Parish in Rio de Janeiro because this parish was located in a rented house.

            By this time the number of Orthodox faithful under Metropolitan Gabriel’s omophorion in Brazil had reached several hundred; therefore more priests were needed. Moreover, two new missions had begun—one in Belo Jardim City, 180 km from Recife, Pernambuco, and another one in São Paulo City. Metropolitan Gabriel ordained six more priests: Father Levi Botner, Father João, Father Paulo, Father Elias Cavalcanti, Father Serafim Adisse, and Father Marcos Perreira. He also elevated three priests as Archpriest—Father Alexis Alfaro, Father Bento, and Father Felipe.

            Also at this occasion many men and women expressed to Metropolitan Gabriel their desire to pursue the call of monasticism. After speaking with them at length he took some of them with him to the monastery in Mafra, Portugal, including: Sara, Eugenia Maria Elizete, Ana Luiza, Maria Cristina, Veronica, and two men who would later be tonsured and elevated to the office of archimandrite: Father Deacon Maurício and Archpriest Filipe.

            During the second half of 1991 the Archimandrites Felipe and João went to Poland with Metropolitan Gabriel, Bishop Theodore, and Bishop Thiago. While in Poland Archimandrite Felipe was elected bishop of Brazil and Archimandrite João as auxiliary bishop of Portugal. In December of this same year, they were consecrated as Hierarchs. Archimandrite Filipe received the name Chrysostome and Archimandrite João kept the same name.

            In 1992, Metropolitan Gabriel was concerned about the Orthodox Church in Brazil; therefore he created a Diocese with a local bishop to supervise the young church. In the second half of 1992 Bishop Chrysostomo arrived in Brazil.

            At that time, the Brazilian Diocese had built one more parish: Saint Bento of Nurcia, in Ilha do Governador, Rio de Janeiro, bringing to a total four parishes and six missions. The number of faithful at that time was close to five hundred baptized Orthodox believers. The clergy was comprised of ten priests, five deacons, and several readers and sub-deacons. Also, the number of ethnic Brazilian monks and nuns in European monasteries was more than twenty.

            In the next three years two more parishes were built, one in Marica, Rio de Janeiro State, Saint Jorge the Great Martyr, and another one in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais State, Saint Nicolau. And three new priests were ordained—Father Sergio, Father Ricardo, and Father Antonio – and one more deacon was also ordained, Father Basilio.
            In February of 1997, Metropolitan Gabriel, who was the pillar of the Portuguese Orthodox Church, passed away. Archbishop João (who was consecrated bishop in 1991) was elected the new metropolitan in June of 1997 to replace him. Sadly, this replacement would cause catastrophic events in the life of the church in Portugal and Brazil.

            At the enthronement of Metropolitan Joâo in 1997, Bishop Chrysostomo was also elevated as archbishop, and in the next year one more bishop was consecrated for Brazil as an auxiliary bishop under Archbishop Chrysostomo.

            By the end of 1999 the Brazilian Diocese had built a new parish in Cordeiro, Rio de Janeiro, and the number of faithful was close to one thousand. However, in 2000, due to scandals in the Portuguese Church the Holy Synod of the Poland Orthodox Church ruled to expel Metropolitan João and all those under his omophorion.

            However, before the Holy Synod of the Poland Orthodox Church could implement his expulsion, Metropolitan João requested to be released from the canonical communion between the Portuguese Orthodox Church and the Poland Orthodox Autocephalic Church. His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa of Poland, accepted Metropolitan João’s request. However, His Beatitude, Metropolitan Sawa, understood that there was no problem with the Brazilian Diocese. Thus, he brought the Brazilian Diocese under his own omophorion.

            Although the canonical status of the Brazilian Diocese was preserved, the faithful, the clergy, the monks and the nuns were not. Hundreds of faithful and many of the clergy left the canonical Brazilian Diocese. Several nuns from the monastery of Annunciation in Portugal fled to France for a Serbian monastery with Metropolitan Sawa’s blessing, while some others just left the monastery and returned to Brazil. Some monks also returned to Brazil or fled to France as well.

            Father Pedro Oliveira asked to be received into the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, while the clergy of the Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia decided to look for another jurisdiction. Some missions like Belo Jardim and São Paulo were closed because there was no priest any more.

            The first jurisdiction that the Holy Trinity Parish’s clergy looked for was the Serbian Orthodox Church. In the year 2000 Archpriest Alexis visited His Grace, Bishop Mitrophan and on behalf of the clergy and the faithful of the Holy Trinity Parish asked him to accept this parish into the Serbian Orthodox Church. Their request was accepted a year and a half later in February of 2002. His Grace Mitrophan, Bishop of Eastern United States and South America, decided to accept this parish with its entire clergy. This being the case, since 2002 the Holy Trinity Parish is part of the Serbian Orthodox Church.

            As previously mentioned, the first parish for native Brazilians was created in Brazil was Holy Trinity Parish in Aldeia. Because Aldeia is far from downtown Recife, it is difficult for the faithful to attend church. Thus, two years ago with Bishop Mitrophan’s blessing, they rented a room in downtown Recife and started a new parish— the Dormition of the Theotokos.

            In addition to Holy Trinity and the Dormition of the Theotokos Parishes, there are also two missions also under the Serbian Church, one in Caruaru, Pernambuco, which is 120 km from Recife, and another is Belo Jardim’s mission – which was reactivated.

Care to comment?

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